Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 6: Icarus launches new DC trade dress

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thanks to Collected Editions readers James Harvey-Richardson and Aleks Ivic (@thedeluxedition) for pointing out that the newly released Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 6: Icarus omits the "New 52" moniker and offers the first new trade dress for DC Comics collections since the start of the New 52 initiative.

Though labeled "Volume 6," Icarus is the first Detective collection by the superstar creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato after their run on Flash. The issues collected within (#30-34 and Annual #3) were published within the New 52, as were the issues that will be collected in Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 7: Anarky (presumably issues #35-40) -- but, Manapul and Buccellato will remain as Detective Comics's creative team after Convergence in the new, post-New 52 DC Universe.

Which begs the question: Is this a special trade dress just to celebrate Manapul and Buccellato's arrival on Detective, or are we looking at the new trade dress for DC's post-Convergence collections, launched a little early and "grandfathering in" those books whose creative teams continue post-Convergence?

Photo by Aleks Ivic

By my calculation, the next "main universe" series to see collection (excluding collections of older comics, etc.) is Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral two weeks from now in the first week of June (followed the next week by both the hardcover and paperback of Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside). Barring official word from DC, that'd be our next indication of whether this is a one-series or line-wide change.

Prior to the New 52, the DC Comics collections trade dress tended to have some commonality by series or storyline, but varied wildly from series to series. Front covers had logos and some image, back covers had images and text, but the spines might have little graphics of the characters at the top or middle, or not at all, and the character and book title broken up by an image or all together. About the only thing that was consistent, especially most recently, was the DC Comics logo that ran across the bottom of the books.

Photo by James Harvey-Richardson

With the New 52, almost all DC trades had essentially uniform spines -- some block of color at the top, then a black background with the full book name, maybe the name of the creators, then the volume number, then the DC logo. As the images show, this allowed for a variety of different New 52 series to be lined up side by side and still more or less look "uniform."

The new Detective trade dress is certainly attractive, no doubt, and seems to take its cues from what came before. The volume numbers and DC logo still essentially line up with the New 52 volumes, but the fonts are different, the background color here is purple, and there's a character image (Batman here, in blue) at the top. Again, we'll have to see some additional volumes before we can determine how this will vary from book to book.

Photos by James Harvey-Richardson

This would seem as much a matter of good timing as anything else -- the new Detective team, getting their first collection right now, gets the new trade dress, but Action Comics team Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's first collection has the old trade dress (at least in hardcover), as will continuing series like Geoff Johns's Justice League.

Change isn't bad, I don't think, and I appreciate that DC's new trade dress, if that's what it is, resembles the old while moving toward the new. What do you think? Would you like the Detective Comics design to become DC's new trade dress going forward?
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5 comments:

  1. Y'know, I hadn't even thought about whether Marvel is going to change their trade dress for Secret Wars. The stark white looks pretty good thanks to the different colors for each title to break things up a bit, but I'd be up for a new concept or at least a change in the font.

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    1. Design change is inevitable, no? Even more so than reboots? I don't think we can ever expect DC, Marvel, etc. to keep their trade dress the same for more than a couple years, even if the series continue apace. That the New 52 trades were uniform for almost four years is a wonder in and of itself.

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  2. Not sure what it is about the new look (maybe the yellow?) but it looks so good I want to take it out for dinner

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    1. Nothing wrong with a nice meal, but the yellow is from the original cover, Detective Comics #30, I believe. If you're digging the new look, you can still show the purple on the spine a good time.

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  3. Stephen Mooney posted a pic of the new Grayson hardcover. It looks like it's following suit with the new trade dress. You can't see the full spine, but you can make out Dick's face on there in lieu of the usual blue block.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CGbfOeyXEAALAPp.jpg:large

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